As I was getting in the shower tonight, I noticed a little spot on my calf. As I turned my leg to see what it was, the visible part of the purple spot grew in size until I realized it was a three-inch wide shiner! I laughed. Poked it. Yes, it's a good one. And I wasn't at all surprised, even though I have only a vague recollection of bashing my leg that hard in recent days. So it goes working on a farm: I end up with minor injuries every week, and only rarely do I take the time to notice them.
This latest one is big, but it's not in a place where I'll notice it much. The gashes I get on my hands-- my most used tools-- are harder to ignore. Take this current one, that's finally almost healed, on my right pointer finger knuckle-- about the worst spot to heal a wound when working with my hands. After removing produce for the CSA from the cooler last Wednesday, I looked down to see my finger covered in blood. Usually I'll just suck it away and keep going, but it was enough to make me stop, wash up, and put on a band-aid. It stopped bleeding soon enough, but over the next few days I re-opened it at least five times. Gently knocking my fist against a broccoli plant while harvesting. Scraping the dry earth while cutting fennel bulbs at the soil surface. Moving boxes onto the truck and simply touching the side wall with my hand. It was a whiner of a cut, and the skin flap that protected it (and originally held in a mat of dirt) eventually fell off and exposed it to the cruel world. It nearly started bleeding again even yesterday, reminding me that I'm not quite as invincible as I'd like to believe.
It also reminded me of a gash I got earlier in the year-- one bad enough to remember even now, five months later. It was during frost season, when we'd turn off the nursery water at a valve underground to keep the pipes from freezing. The shut-off point was in a small hole, surrounded by bark mulch and often filled with muddy leaked water from the system. I had to use both hands to budge the handle, awkwardly perched on my haunches above the hole, and it would usually release suddenly and forcefully. So of course, one morning I caught my knuckles underneath the handle as it finally moved, skinning off a chunk of my fist. It was another bleeder, forcing me to stop, care for myself, stand there going over all the things I want to get done while I put pressure on the wound. It kept my dominant hand vulnerable for at least a week and made it difficult to squeeze anything without wrenching it back open. A minor inconvenience, but nothing to really slow me down.
These are the everyday scrapes and bruises that tend to disappear from my memory as soon as they're healed. For some reason, some of them linger, even after I can see no sign of them on my skin. That fist scrape is completely invisible now. Not even a scar. The one still healing on my knuckle will fully fade in just a couple more weeks. Like it never happened.
So again, I think of the tomatoes. The ones we grafted in early spring, severing off entire halves of their bodies, coaxing them to heal together with a different plant. Earlier this week I was showing some folks how the grafted plants have caught up with the others by now and are more sturdy, thicker-stemmed, and vigorous. I knelt to show them the graft scars just above the soil surface, and smiled. Even I, who performed surgery on them and nursed them back to health like a mother who remembers every knick and bump that her child endures, couldn't see them clearly anymore. Like new. Like we might as well forget, and just marvel at the bodacious fruit hanging from their branches.